Zusammenfassung: Marine protected areas:
During the past decade, considerable progress has been made in terms of legal instruments to create marine protected areas (MPAs) up to the offshore limit of national jurisdiction and even beyond.
However, the political targets to establish representative or ecologically coherent networks of MPAs have not been met as yet. While 15% of terrestrial habitats are designated as protected areas, there is only 1.2% MPA coverage at sea, with only a few large oceanic or deep-sea and/or High Seas MPAs.
Large coastal marine protected areas were the first ones to face the consequences of climate change including sea-level rise and ocean warming. There is growing evidence of indirect and subtle effects of climate change and ocean acidification in the offshore realm, too, including the alteration of current and stratification patterns, changes in plankton productivity, shifts in the bio-geographic range of e.g. fish stocks as well as habitat degradation.
Overfishing, destructive fishing practices, extraction of mineral resources, invasive species and pollution may exacerbate such effects. Coastal and offshore marine protected areas in which direct human impacts are minimized and eliminated will serve as a natural buffer and support the adaptation and resilience of marine ecosystems to shifting baselines in an era of climate change.
To make this effectively happen, the management of existing MPAs has to secure their natural dynamics at the level of habitats, life cycle of species, food web and trophic interaction.
Networks of MPAs have to provide full protection of critical areas, connectivity between habitats and populations as well as replication of typical features including stepping stones and reproduction sites to allow for seeding of organisms, resettlement and risk reduction.